When it's wise to consider Underpromotion: Part of both the
Beginner's Chess Guide and the Chess Strategy Guide, Section 1

Chess Endgame Guide
Pawn Promotion Can Win A Game
[Underpromotion]


Jump to Underpromotion section:
Why Not Always A Queen?

Underpromoting to a:
Knight | Bishop | Rook

Pawn Promotion to CheckmateWhen you get a Pawn to your opponent's back row, you get to Promote - essentially, you swap it - for a choice of any ONE of the following:

  • Queen
  • Rook
  • Bishop
  • Knight

Now then, 9 times out of 10, a player will have no hesitation in Promoting their Pawn to a Queen - either to replace the one they've lost; or to get into that exclusive of situations where you have TWO - sometimes more! - Queens on the Board ...

Because of the Queen's powers of movement, a Queen is usually a great choice. However, there are circumstances where, to do so, will have you wanting to nut the table ... HARD, as you belatedly realize your mistake.

Which brings us neatly to the following question ...


Why Not Always A Queen?

Move 1, White's f-file Pawn steps forward, onto f8 and, not hesitating, chooses to Promote to a Queen (f8=Q) ...

Instantly, the game ends in a Draw - Stalemate, with both players getting half a point (½-½) ...

  • Greed for a Queen;
  • Lack of concentration;
  • Or, lack of observation ...

They can all play a part in handing a share of the points to an otherwise losing opponent.

Scroll down, check the remaining videos and see how choosing Underpromotion - to a Knight, Bishop, or Rook - "could" prove a wiser option.


Jump to Underpromotion section:
Why Not Always A Queen?

Underpromoting to a:
Knight | Bishop | Rook

Underpromotion = Knight

In this example, White's f-Pawn is about to gain Promotion. Notice that, if White opts for a Queen, the game instantly ends in a Draw, as the Queen would cut off all the Black King's escape routes, while leaving the King not in check where it currently is.

Instead, White wisely chooses a Knight (f8=N), delaying gratification to free the e-Pawn, which DOES get to promote to a Queen (e8=Q), and then White can go after Black's King, for the win.


Jump to Underpromotion section:
Why Not Always A Queen?

Underpromoting to a:
Knight | Bishop | Rook

Underpromotion = Bishop

In this example, which has the same setup as the Pawn-to-Knight example (above), White's f-Pawn Underpromotes to a Bishop (f8=B), to prevent the Black King achieving Stalemate (a Draw).

Black's King does attempt to capture the Bishop, but it can't get there in time to prevent the loss of the Black e-Pawn, which frees White's e-Pawn to gain Promotion to a Queen (e8=Q) ... White's win is inevitable.

Incidentally, note how White maneuvers his King around the left-side of its e-Pawn [Timeline 0:23]. There are two reasons for doing so: first, to offer the needed protection to both pieces, in general; while, secondly, enabling safe Promotion for the Pawn.


Jump to Underpromotion section:
Why Not Always A Queen?

Underpromoting to a:
Knight | Bishop | Rook

Underpromotion = Rook

In this example, which has the same setup as the other two examples (above), White's f-Pawn Underpromotes to a Rook (f8=R), to prevent the Black King achieving Stalemate (a Draw).

After capturing the Black e-Pawn, White has to maneuver his King and Rook to prevent losing the Rook, while the e-Pawn gains Promotion to a Queen (e8=Q), for an instant Checkmate victory (note the outcome would have been the same if White Underpromoted to a second Rook).


Jump to Underpromotion section:
Why Not Always A Queen?

Underpromoting to a:
Knight | Bishop | Rook


From this Underpromotion Guide,
Return to the Beginner's Chess Guide (Section 2)
Return To The Chess Strategies Guide (Section 1)
← Back to the Chess Glossary (Underpromotion)
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